Today, Environment Massachusetts delivered a letter signed by more than 30 local and statewide environmental groups urging legislators on Beacon Hill to pass a bill to keep Massachusetts safe from fracking.
Sponsored by Reps. Peter Kocot of Northampton and Denise Provost of Somerville, the bill (H.3796) would enact a 10-year moratorium on fracking and the toxic waste produced by this dirty drilling practice. H.3796 was approved by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture last fall, but with only a few weeks left in the current legislative session, the bill now sits in the House Ways & Means Committee.
“Across the country, fracking has contaminated water, polluted air, and turned forests into industrial zones,” said Ben Hellerstein, field associate for Environment Massachusetts. “Why would we ever allow this dirty drilling to threaten the natural beauty of Western Massachusetts or the health of its communities?”
With more than 1,000 documented cases of water contamination linked to fracking operations across the country, the health of drinking water in Western Massachusetts could be at risk.
"Our state government must do everything it can to protect our drinking water supplies,” said Rep. Kocot. “This bill will help ensure the health of our communities is kept safe.”
Fracking waste is also a concern. With the threat of a major fracking boom looming next door in New York, the Legislature of nearly every adjacent state has already taken action to prevent New York’s fracking waste from threatening their communities. Vermont banned fracking in 2012. This spring, the Connecticut Legislature approved a moratorium on fracking waste. In May, the New Jersey State Senate approved a permanent ban on fracking waste. Now Massachusetts must take action.
“If we fail to act now, our state could be the most likely dumping ground for New York’s fracking waste as soon as next year,” said Hellerstein.
Environment Massachusetts’ sister organization Environment New York has worked with allies to stall fracking in New York for now, but state permits could still be issued as early as 2015.
“We have to learn a lesson from the communities that have been totally devastated,” said Mary Ann Babinski, director of the Pioneer Valley-based group Westfield Concerned Citizens. “We know that we’re close to New York and the Marcellus Shale…When they try to get rid of that contaminated water, we know they will try to bring it into a neighbor state. We don’t want that to happen.”
The coalition letter delivered today is the latest show of public opposition to fracking in the Bay State. This letter follows 11,700 anti-fracking petitions delivered by Environment Massachusetts earlier this legislative session.
“We have a chance to ban fracking before it can begin in our state,” said Hellerstein. “We’re working to keep fracking and its waste from ruining the landscapes we love and the water we depend on.”